Collections and services


Printed and handwritten music scores

Instrumental and vocal works

Psalm CXXVI: Pro omni tempore. Sébastien de Brossard (1655-1730).

Psalm CXXVI : Pro omni tempore. Sébastien de Brossard (1655-1730).

The Music department, based at the Richelieu-Louvois site (Site Richelieu-Louvois), holds several hundred thousand printed and handwritten music scores. The collection of musical manuscripts consists of an estimated 40,000 manuscripts dating from before 1800 and around 100,000 19th and 20th century manuscripts.

The department’s material also includes collections of execution equipment for lyrical theaters (with the exception of the Paris Opera and the Opéra-Comique, whose collections are held at the Opera Library), as well as for other institutions, such as the “Chapelle du roi” collection (18th and 19th century). These collections are rounded out by around 70,000 letters from musicians.

Collections of printed musical materials include the first examples of printed music (Ottaviano Petrucci’s Odhecaton) and an extensive collection of material published in Europe before 1800. From the 19th century onwards, these collections have been regularly expanded via the legal deposit scheme for printed music, which also covers contemporary music, variety music, and songs, and material produced for educational purposes (especially manuals).
The Manuscripts department holds musical manuscripts of Byzantine origin in its Greek collection, as well as numerous manuscripts that include musical notation in its Latin collection. It also holds treatises on Eastern music in its Arabic collection, as well as letters from famous musicians and composers.

The Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal) also holds around a thousand printed and handwritten music scores covering both secular and liturgical works, most from the 17th and 18th centuries, but also from the medieval era.

The Opera Library also holds a large amount of ancient and modern printed musical material. In particular, this includes instrumental works by Boccherini, and late 18th and early 19th century cantatas and oratorios preserved in the form of handwritten originals or copies.

Opera and incidental music

Available for consultation at the Opera Library is an extensive collection of handwritten music scores and orchestral material representing the activities of the Académie Royale de Musique (now the Opéra National de Paris) from Lully to the present day.

The musical collections based at the Opera Library also include prestigious pieces or sets of pieces, such as original handwritten music scores of Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien and Rossini’s Ermione, virtually all the operas of Jules Massenet and Gaspare Spontini, and a set of 17th and 18th century operas brought together within the La Salle collection.

The Georges Douay collection, held at the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal), offers a number of music scores from operetta, opéra-bouffe and light music. The Lagarde collection also includes simplified piano arrangements of operas.

For more info
  • Ex-libris de Jeanne Lagarde
    Fonds Lagarde
    La collection d’une femme du début du XXe siècle, férue de théâtre et d’opéra
  • Alzire, ou les Américains. Voltaire, 1736. Epître dédicatoire à Madame Du Châtelet
    Fonds Georges Douay
    Importante collection dédiée à l'art dramatique rassemblée par le compositeur Georges Douay à la fin du XIXe siècle
The Performing Arts department holds a very extensive collection of 19th century incidental music from the Théâtre des Variétés, the Théâtre de l’Ambigu, the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, and the Théâtre de l’Odéon. It also holds music scores composed for performances by the Sorbonne’s Groupe de Théâtre antique in the 1930s.

Also available for consultation is the collection of incidental and film music composer Maurice Jaubert (1900-1940), as well as those of violinists and teachers Jules Boucherit and Denise Soriano. Finally, scores from the City of Paris’s music competitions from the late 19th century to the 1940s have been donated to the department. (Some scores from the Théâtre de l’Odéon and the Maurice Jaubert collection are held in the Music department).

Friday, December 16, 2016